Urban development

As someone who spent most of their life in cities I am acutely aware of how turning a city centre into a building site affects the people who already live there. There is a part of Barcelona, largely residential, at the end of Avenue Diagonal I have observed a major building project here over the past couple of years.

This area had (and still has) a number of derelict factory sites as it was once a thriving industrial area and the multi-national giant Cisco wanted to build a major European centre here. Because the local authorities place value on their area this development has had some features that our local authorities might copy!

Cisco building Poblenou.

This red-brick building was a derelict factory but it has its facade lovingly restored and the modern office is built inside. The entire south-facing roof is covered with solar panels and is providing electricity to run the centre. The fins on the windows reduce the need for air conditioning during the hot Barcelona summer. Even the factory chimney (not in view here) has also been restored.

You can see the entrance to the park area in the foreground. This was built and planted as the building was continuing.

Linear park

The linear park extends the full length of a large area currenly under construction. By putting the park in place early in the project the local people have a pleasant environment to live in while the building progresses.

Secluded areas like this sand-filled arena are dotted along the parkway with little paths to explore and vegetation rapidly growing tall enough for games of Hide-and-Seek.

An adventure climbing frame provides local children with challenging fun while there are lots of seats for onlookers!

The area already had some beautiful mature trees and during construction of the park these mature trees were lifted, had their roots wrapped in sacking and were diligently watered through the long hot summer. As soon as possible they were replanted in their original locations. I only spotted one casualty!

I have been observing the construction phase of this project over the past few years. The project also includes creating flood protection areas bringing flood water away from paths and roadways. These also are full of luxuriant planting helping to clean the air of a very busy city.

This planting along a busy road replaces rainwater gullys and shores and is proving completely effective in dealing with the torrential downpours that are a feature of the weather here.

This is an example of one of the mature trees that is being supported as it sends out new roots to secure it in its home. This is a Plane tree and the foliage above looks very healthy!

Having seen the trees in this area at their most vulnerable, in the midsummer sun with only sacking to protect their roots, and workmen diligently hosing them down at dawn and dusk, it is wonderful to see them reinstated with those amazing Banana plants and Castor Oil plants creating a real jungle area in a previously bare place!

Now would somone please tell our planners to talk to the planners in Barcelona so our city can also come alive like this!

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